Friday, June 22, 2012

Guantanamo Boy

Guantanamo BoyTitle: Guantanamo Boy
Author: Anna Perera
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: July, 2011 (in US)
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: Innocent until proven guilty? Not here you're not. Robbed of his childhood, this is one boy's fictional experience of the supposed war on terror. Khalid, a fifteen-year-old Muslim boy from England, is abducted from Pakistan while on holiday with his family. He is taken to Guantanamo Bay and held without charge, where his hopes and dreams are crushed under the cruellest of circumstances. An innocent denied his freedom at a time when most boys are finding theirs, Khalid tries and fails to understand what's happening to him.
What I Think: Guantanamo Bay is a very secretive part of American present history. It was a place where the American government acted as if they were above the law torturing and detaining suspected terrorists, including children, without a fair trail, much less much evidence. And although it has now been found that complete horrors were happening there, it is still open and housing approximately 169 prisoners (as of 4/12). It is hard to imagine the violations of civil rights that happened at Guantanamo Bay and this novel lays them all out for you. 

Anna Perera takes a young boy named Khalid and puts him through what some young Muslim men went through during the War on Terror after September 11th. Khalid is visiting his family in Pakistan when he is attacked and kidnapped by a group of men and then handed over to the American military who pay for any suspected terrorists who are turned over to them. Then through torture, including water boarding, they force him into confessing to terrorist acts which makes him end up in Guantanamo. 

This is not an easy story to read. It is a part of our history that most Americans wish wasn't true. This book is tough and puts the reader is a tough situations, but there is a lesson to learn by the history portrayed.

This book would be a great book to have in a social studies curriculum. 
Read Together: Grades 7 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 8 to 12
Read With: As I was looking through all of my books, I couldn't find the perfect book(s) to list here. Any book about the middle east or a lack of civil rights (fiction or nonfiction) would connect like Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples, Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan, The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, etc. But none of them are exactly right to connect with Guantanamo Boy
Snatch of Text: "He's badly mistaken. Blocking the hallway is a gang of fierce-looking men dressed in dark shalwar kameez. Black cloths wrapped around their heads. Black gloves on their hands. Two angry blue eyes, the rest brown, burn into Khalid as the figures move towards him like cartoon gangsters with square bodies.  Confused by the image, he staggers, bumping backwards into the wall. Arms up to stop them getting nearer. Too shocked and terrified to react as they shoulder him to the kitchen and close the door before pushing him to his knees and waving a gun at him as if he's a violent criminal. Then vice-like hands clamp his mouth tight until they plaster it with duct tape. No chance to wonder what the hell is going on, let alone scream out loud." (p. 62)
Mentor Text for: Setting, Suspense, Characterization
Writing Prompts (from Michael Robinson): Should torture be used to obtain information from someone?; Are the punishments found in the book effective and appropriate? 
Topics Covered: Guantanamo Bay, Prison, Torture, Terrorism, Punishment, Government, Religion, Family
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